Unaffected portrayals buoy up good-natured rom-com
Opposites attract—or, do they? In Joe Nussbaum’s “Prom,” the paths of high school seniors, Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) and Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonnell), aren’t the type that would normally cross.
After all, Nova is the class president who’s destined for great things, while Jesse is the brooding slacker who keeps getting sent to detention for cutting classes. Moreover, she’s set to graduate at the top of her class, while he isn’t even sure if he’ll graduate at all! How disparate can you get?
—And they don’t even like each other! He despises the superficiality of the upcoming prom she can’t seem to stop talking about, while she scoffs at his irresponsible ways and apathy.
But, fate has a way of turning teenage rancor into romance. It doesn’t take long for the star-crossed couple to realize there’s more to each other than meets the eye. You’ve seen all this before? Of course you have. So, to break the monotony, the film also follows Jesse and Nova’s schoolmates, who are just as preoccupied with the anticipated social event as they are.
There’s the two-timing jock who juggles women the way he plays with his soccer ball; the nerdy guy who can’t seem to get any girl to go with him to the prom; the childhood sweethearts who are beginning to outgrow each other; the unkempt outcast who keeps spinning tall tales, and the harmless geek who’s hopelessly in love with his gorgeous lab partner.
“Prom” doesn’t have the nasty streak nor the caustic wit of, say, Michael Lehmann’s “Heathers,” Mark Waters’ “Mean Girls,” and more recently, Will Gluck’s “Easy A.” But, for moviegoers who are raring for a less frenetic depiction of high school life, Nussbaum’s good-natured rom-com is a breath of fresh air.
The movie adapts the cinematic sensibility of John Hughes’ poignant teenage flicks (“Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club”) and Howard Deutch’s “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and is boosted further by the charmingly unaffected portrayals of its attractive cast, led by the promising McDonnell, who wears his heart on his sleeve.
Nussbaum haphazardly brings all their stories together—sometimes, it’s hard to see the point of following all those meandering narrative threads other than the fact that, for many of us, high school was indeed as memorably transitory as it was chaotic—and ultimately life-changing!
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